As the Holidays are upon us once again, I think we can all agree that this time of year comes with mixed anticipation that tends to have both positive and negative effects on our sense of self-worth.
Some of us have warm memories of decorating the tree and leaving a plate of milk & cookies for Santa. I am one of those people, yet even back then I could always sense strange energy just underneath the laughs, hot cocoa, and gift exchanges. It wasn’t until much later in life, well after I’ve had a job and place of my own, that I finally understood what this energy was…
It was guilt, a sense of unfulfilled expectations, stress, and resentment. And with the insight to recognize this energy also came the understanding that while we may love the Holidays and all that comes with it, we may also feel stressed about the obligation to spend money on gifts we often cannot afford.
This made me incredibly sad, and I still often wonder why anyone does anything that is motivated by guilt. Over the years, I’ve learned what the act of giving from the heart with no expectations feels like, on both the offering and the receiving ends. When I gave with expectations, whether it be a thank you, a favor, or recognition and praise, I was often left feeling disappointed and even a little resentful.
What I didn’t realize at the time was that my entire view of “give and take” was completely skewed. All my life I’ve seen my mother act out of guilt and how it affected her sense of self-worth. I soon learned that we “must” give whatever is asked of us or else we will be black-listed, shunned, etc. and that love and acceptance is based on what you do, not who you are.
It was until recently in my life actually, that I learned to love myself. This completely changed the way I saw the world around me and how I felt about love and what it means. In the past 3 years, I’ve undergone what you might call a “dark night of the soul”, where my life has been a rollercoaster of ups and downs, tests, trials, and pain that stretched me, molded me and pushed me to finally understand that my own self-worth has nothing to do with anyone else or anything, except how I feel about myself.
Seeing someone very close to me almost take their own life based on the fact they had let the opinions of “authority” figures at work and expectations stacked upon her that were impossible to meet stack so high that she could no longer see herself as worthy of love. Always running in a wheel going nowhere, in a self-fulfilling prophecy of bars set too high so one can always bestow a sense of “not good enough” upon themselves.
I have no idea when she learned that love must be earned, but this idea soaked into the core of my being as well and took a long time and much introspection to finally release and heal. But once I realized that the only opinions of ourselves that matter are our own, it became easier to put myself first and show myself the love and respect that I’d think was only possible getting from other people for so long. Finally, I felt accepted, seen, heard and with this insight came the encouragement to “do me” that I never had before, nor ever thought I was worthy of. As the saying goes, you become the people you surround yourself with the most…” and this definitely rang true for me for most of my childhood and young adult life.
About to turn 41 years old in less than 2 months, I can proudly say without hesitating that I no longer move towards that which expects of me, but rather towards what makes my heart ring truth as being right for me. No longer do I move away from an opportunity for growth and empowerment, but rather away from that which does not serve me in a positive way. That can take form in the actions of others, or beliefs that were demeaning or negative.
So, let this be a great reminder to myself and anyone else who loves this time of year in regards to how it “brings us together” but also a little sad with the knowledge that it is a major time of depression, stress, sadness and of feelings of “not good enough”.
Whether it be the feeling of jealousy from hearing a friend talk about the trip to France her husband bought for them, or seeing a loving family shop and spend with no regard for a budget, while you stress and loathe yourself for only being able to get one gift for someone. Where do we draw the line between celebration and desecration of our value and self-esteem? If you are not “feeling it”, then NO one has the right to tell you that you should.
Whatever your feelings are about the holiday season, no matter what your religion our beliefs may be, we can all agree that this is one of the most paradoxical times of year in the sense we are expected to celebrate and give thanks for all we have, while at the same time spending money we don’t have to impress people we may not even like very much. Welcome to the Age of Materialism.
Perhaps the greatest gift we can share is knowledge and the comfort of knowing we are not alone in feeling this way. When we are free to feel and be as we are, we give the rest of the world the same freedom. All it takes is remembering to celebrate what’s in your heart as often (if not more) than what society has deemed “important” on your calendar.
Tamara Rant is a Co-Editor/Writer for CLN as well as a Licensed Reiki Master, heart-centered Graphic Designer and a progressive voice in social media activism & awareness. She is an avid lover of all things Quantum Physics and Spirituality. Connect with Tamara by visiting Prana Paws/Healing Hearts Reiki or go to RantDesignMedia.com
Tamara posts new original articles to CLN every Saturday.
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This article was originally created and published by Conscious Life News and is published here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Tamara Rant and ConsciousLifeNews.com. It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author bio, and this Copyright/Creative Commons statement.